Each year, the four-wheel-drive experts at 4-Wheel & Off-Road put the newest 4x4 trucks to the test--and they don't kid around. Each of the brand-new trucks is thrown into the desert sand, squeezed between mountain boulders, and forced to scramble up an incredibly steep hill covered with loose rocks--and that's just on the first day of a weeklong thrashfest. This was not our first 4x4 of the Year experience, but this year's test included the revised '08 Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0L CRD, so we had to see how it stacked up against the other new 4x4 SUVs on sale this year.
Because 4WOR only tests trucks with a Low range that are all-new or significantly revised, the other SUVs in the competition were the Hummer H3 Alpha (V-8), Nissan Pathfinder (V-8), Jeep Wrangler Rubicon four-door, Jeep Liberty, Hummer H2, and Toyota Land Cruiser. Below, you'll find specifications along with our diesel-skewed opinion of each wagon, but you'll need to pick up the Feb. '08 issue of 4-Wheel & Off-Road to find out which 4x4 wins their test.
2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0L CRD
Of course, this oil-burner is our favorite of the group, but we must try to be objective. The Grand Cherokee is a dream on the streets, with tight handling and tons of torque, but a lack of ground clearance means off-roaders must constantly slow to a crawl to avoid body damage. When obstacles are not in the way, the Quadra-Drive II 4wd system is absolutely awesome. The axles automatically lock as soon as slippage is detected, and power is seamlessly transferred to the corners with better grip-whether you're on- or off-road. Antilock braking and throttle control also play a role in the traction system but aren't intrusive like many of the other SUVs tested. In addition to having the best 4wd system in the test, the Grand Cherokee ate much less fuel than the other trucks, even averaging more than 16mpg in the dirt. Too bad it's only currently legal for sale in 45 states due to its emissions.
EngineDisplacement: 182 ci (2,987 cc)Type: V-6 DOHC 24-valvePower: 215 hp at 3,800 rpm Torque: 376 lb-ft at 1,600-2,800 rpmEmissions: Bin 10 (45 states only)EPA (CITY/HIGHWAY): 19 mpg
4WD System Type: Full-time 4WD/Low rangeFront axle: Limited-slip/electric lockerRear axle: Limited-slip/electric lockerTransfer case: NV245 electronic with limited-slipAxle ratios: 3.73:1Low-range ratio: 2.72:1Crawl ratio: 36.4:1